Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sushi Ichiban, Westbrook Calgary, AB – Tasty sushi rolls and sashimi

After a productive day shopping up a storm, we decided to fuel up with some sushi! Our normal go-to Wa’s Japanese was full for the night, so we went to one of my Aunt’s favorites – Sushi Ichiban in Westbrook. I stole, err, borrowed by cousin's Canon SLR for the night, and I like it - its pretty intuitive even for an electronics dummy like me!

Inside, we’re greeted with the warm hues of the bamboo decor, golden woods and splashing of the water fountain into a small Kio pond. The fish is fresh here, but noooo, these Kio goldfish are not on the menu tonight!

Service is polite and prompt, and we let the kitchen work their magic while we sipped on green tea out of their monogrammed cups

The APPYS
We started off with a round of miso soup. Pretty standard, with a hint of unami and salt from the miso paste, a touch of dashi stock and diced green onions to warm us up from the nippy weather outside.

Next out was a plate of Edamame - steamed Japanese green beans with a good hit of sea salt. Its simple and delicious way to get your veggies in, and they disappeared almost faster than I had chance to take a pic of them!

I never pass up a chance to try out a restaurant’s take on beef tetaki if they happen to offer it on their menu. Ichiban gently sears the exterior, and the thin slices of tender beef are placed atop some tangy with a hit of spice ponzu sauce. Its all palted on top of grated carrot instead of the usual traditional shredded peppery diakon, but the regular orange carrot adds in a nice sweetness.

We all had a simple green salad with grape tomatos tossed in a delicious tangy creamy in-house dressing.

We were rewarded for eating our veggies with… Rock Scallop. Or more accurately: deep fried bacon wrapped rock scallops. There's normally four in a dish, but the kitchen was nice to add in one more as we were a party of five.  Hard to go wrong in crispy bacon wrapped anything! And the scallops were nice and sweet and tender to boot. Mmm!

The Ika Karage was next – essentially deep fried calamari in tempura, served with a lightly spicy and Japanese mayo based Dragon eyes sauce. The seasoned crispy battered calamari was cooked to a tender perfect and stood well on its own without the dipping sauce.

We moved on to the rich and heavy Salmon Kama. Its described as BBQ salmon cheek in the menu, but it’s a misprint - its actually BBQ salmon collar served with ponzu sauce.

The salmon is grilled to perfection with a light dusting of fleur de sel – we made the rich buttery and creamy meaty salmon collars with crispy skin disappear like magic, and didn’t really need the side of ponzo dipping sauce, though it did help cut through some of the rich fattiness. Nom!

the SUSHI, SASHIMI and ROLLs!
My relatives enjoy sashimi (no rice!) more than sushi, so we had not one, but two orders of the Assorted sashimi platter. Scallops were notably sweet and fresh, as was the salmon and hamachi. The tuna was fresh, but we’ve had better in Calgary.

Along with another order of Salmon Sashimi, was the Unagi roll. Ripe creamy avocado and a bit of cucumber is rolled up in seasoned sushi rice and topped with warm grilled fresh water eel brushed with a sweet teriyaki sauce. The toasted sesame was anice touch, bringing out of the smokiness of the grilled eel.

Next up was the Ichiban House Special roll - tempura prawn, tobiko, cucumber with avocado rolled up with rice and nori, then topped with thin slice of raw salmon, and drenched with a Dragon eye’s sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds. While tasty, we would have preferred a lighter hand on the sauce, as it tended to mask the other flavors in the roll.

The next roll was what we called a sister to the Ichiban House Special roll, as many of the elements were the same, but with a sweet spin. The Mango Paradise roll was the same has the precious roll with a different topping: salmon sashimi, sliced mango and a dollop of mango puree. Normally I’m not a fan of “sweet” tasting rolls, but the unripened tang of the mango slice and the sweet mango puree worked to balance each other out.

We rounded out our meal by sharing some generic green matcha tea ice cream.

the VERDICT
Overall, a good showing from a family friendly run Japanese restaurant with fresh sashimi and tasty rolls. That rich and buttery grilled salmon collar? I’ll be seeing you again very very soon!

Address 4014 Macleod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2G2R7
Phone 403-243-1000
Hours Mon-Thurs 11am-9:30pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat noon-10pm, Sun noon-9:30pm, Holidays 4pm-9:30pm
Sushi Ichiban on Urbanspoon
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